Robert’s Rules of Order

An orderly conduct of debate and decision making is governed by rules. They are intended to ensure peaceful deliberation in which members of an assembly who so desire have the opportunity to speak and express their point of view. The most commonly used rules for MUNA are listed in the following grid and explained in some detail later in this section.

MUNA Roles of Procedure at a glance

 

Motion Purpose Debate Vote
Reconsider To reconsider an approved motion None Majority
Rescind To rescind an approved motion Yes 2/3
Lay on the Table To postpone decision of motions No Majority
Adjourn To adjourn the meeting No Majority
Previous Question To cut off debate and vote No 2/3
Appeal the Chair Appeal against Chair’s decision yes Majority
Point of Order Correct an error in procedure None None
Point of Information Seek information of a matter under discussion None None
Suspend Rules Set aside agenda and discuss another issue None 2/3
Suspension of Meeting Suspension of Recess meeting None Majority
Question of Privilege Violation of the privilege(s) of a member Yes Majority

 

This is an adaptation of the Short Form on the website of the National Model United Nations www.nmun.org

1. MAIN MOTIONS

It is not always possible to do this but, generally speaking, main motions should be prepared in writing with one copy for the secretary and another for the chair person. There are three steps in the introduction of a motion.

a. Motion moved
b. Motion seconded
c. Motion stated by the Chair – alterations and modifications may be made in the motion before it is stated in final form by the Chair unless a written version has already been distributed to the assembly.

A main motion may be withdrawn, unless someone objects, by its mover at any time before voting on it has commenced. To do so, a motion for the withdrawal of the motion must be made. Such a motion requires no second. It is non-debatable, cannot be amended, and requires a majority

Parliamentary courtesy requires that a person who introduces a main motion should be allowed to speak first and last in the debate. This includes persons introducing resolutions while giving committee reports.

Main motions may be re-visited under the following conditions.

a. Reconsider a motion. A main motion can be reconsidered. This can be done only at the same meeting (or the following meeting if it meets the next day) where the motion was first considered. The motion to reconsider must be moved by someone who voted on the prevailing side on the main motion. A motion to reconsider the main motion must be seconded, cannot be amended, and requires a simple majority
b. Renew a motion. A main motion that fails to pass may be brought up again at any future meeting.
c. Rescind or Repeal a motion. A main motion that has been passed may be rescinded at any future meeting. The motion to rescind must be seconded, is debatable, and requires a 2/3 majority if notice of the motion to rescind was not given at the preceding meeting or in the call for the meeting.

2. AMENDMENTS

An amendment may directly conflict with the spirit or intent of the original main motion, but it must have a direct bearing upon the subject of the main motion.

A proposed amendment can also be amended, but an amendment to an amendment cannot be amended.

Types of amendments:

a. Adding words
b. Striking out words
c. Striking out certain words and inserting other words
d. Substituting a different motion on the same subject
e. Dividing the motion into two or more motions, and voting on each separately

3. POSTPONING DECISIONS ON MOTIONS

There are three ways of putting off voting on a motion.

a. Lay on the table. The motion to lay on the table must be seconded, is non-debatable, cannot be amended, and requires a majority vote. A tabled motion must be un-tabled during the same meeting, or at the next meeting, or it dies. It can be brought up again at a later meeting as a renewed motion. The motion to take from the table must be seconded, is non-debatable, and requires a majority vote. Tabling an amendment has the effect of also tabling the main motion.
b. Postpone to a certain time. This motion to lay on the table can be amended in terms of the time. The amendment must be seconded, is limited to short debate, and requires majority vote.
c. To refer to committee. Such a motion must be seconded, is debatable, can be amended, and requires a majority vote.

4. MOTION TO ADJOURN

This motion is in order at any time. It must be seconded, is non-debatable, cannot be amended, and requires a majority vote.

5. MOVING THE PREVIOUS QUESTION

This motion cuts off debate. It must be seconded, is non-debatable, cannot be amended, and requires a 2/3 vote to pass.

If an amendment to a main motion is being debated, and the previous question is moved, the call for the previous question can be to either (a) end debate on the amendment only, or (b) to end debate on both the amendment and the main motion. The person moving the previous question should clarify her/his intent.

6. VOTING

Normal voting procedure is by voice, by show of hands, or by roll call. Voting by secret ballot on a motion requires the approval of the assembly.

7. DIVISION OF THE HOUSE

A division of the house, or a roll call vote, may be called for by anyone if he/she doubts the judgment of the chair in counting voice votes or show of hands.

8. APPEAL A DECISION OF THE CHAIR

Any member of an assembly may appeal a decision of the Chair, but the appeal must be made only at the time when the ruling is made. The appeal must be seconded, is debatable, and requires a majority vote. A successful appeal overrules the Chair.

9. OBTAINING THE FLOOR

No one may speak without being recognized by the Chair. Those wishing to speak must make a written request to the Chair. Speakers must always address the Chair.

10. POINT OF ORDER

A Point of Order has precedence over any other business. If one believes that something is out of order, or that a speaker is speaking improperly, or straying from the topic at hand, one may raise a Point of Order. This may be done at any time and may interrupt the person who has the floor.

11. POINT OF INFORMATION

If one is unclear about the business being conducted, one may raise a Point of Information. In so doing, one seeks and not gives information. This may be done at any time but, unlike a Point of Order, a speaker may not be interrupted.

12. QUORUM

A meeting may start without a quorum, but no official business may be conducted. If the quorum is lost during the course of a meeting, no further business may be conducted.

13. SUSPEND THE RULES

A motion to suspend the rules is intended to set aside the current business of the assembly so as to enable it to discuss a new or important issue not on the agenda. The object of the suspension must be specified. Such a motion must be seconded, it is non debatable, cannot be amended, and requires a 2/3 majority for approval.

14. SUSPENSION OF THE MEETING

Suspension of the meeting is a motion that seeks to recess the meeting for a specified period of time. Such a motion needs a second, is non debatable and requires a simple majority for approval.

15.  QUESTIONS OF PRIVILEGE

Questions of privilege may relate to privileges of the assembly or to only of a member, the former having precedence over the latter.  Questions of privilege take precedence over all other motions except recess and adjournment.  If the question requires immediate attention, such as a presentation is inaudible in some part of the hall, it may interrupt a speaker.  Otherwise, the question of privilege should not interrupt a speaker.  However, if a member has been recognized by the Chair but the speech has not commenced, another member may raise a question of privilege.

The Chair directs the member to state the question and then decides whether it is one of privilege or not.  Any two members may appeal the Chair’s decision (see #8 above).  Or, the Chair may decide it to be a question of privilege, but not of sufficient urgency to justify interrupting the speaker already recognized to speak.  In such a case, the speaker is allowed to continue and, when the speech is finished, the Chair should immediately recognize the member who initially raised the question to make his/her motion if one is necessary.  If such a motion is made it becomes the immediately pending business.  Such a motion must be seconded, is debatable, can be amended, and is treated as any other main motion.  As soon as the question of privilege is disposed of, the business of the assembly is resumed exactly where it was interrupted. (For more details, see Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, and Section 19). The distinction between privileged questions and question of privilege should be borne in mind.

NOTE:  The above selection from Robert’s Rules of Order  should be adequate for MUNA participants.  However, for those who wish to learn more extensively about these rules of procedure, the best source is a copy of the latest edition of the book by the same name.  As a short cut, visit http://www.bing.com/search?q=Robert’s+Rules+of+Order&src=IE-SearchBox&FORM=IESR02&pc=EUPP_UE02.  This site lists a number of online sources about the procedural rules